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How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?

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Levan Khomeriki
How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?
on Jul 23, 2013 at 7:57:09 pm

I'm trying to achieve this, exact look of levitating water drops for a commercial that we did, but can't figure out how (starting from 00:41):

I'm using Trapcode Particular and guess, I should create a particle comp, animate and loop it inside, but can't quite figure out how to add that flickering lens flare to the drops and that fade in-out...

Could you suggest steps to achieve that look?


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Cassius Marques
Re: How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?
on Jul 23, 2013 at 8:38:10 pm

From a 240p video it's kind hard to pin point the look. I can't see what the particles really are, its all blurry. But I'll try to help anyway.

I'd suggest you break apart the particle layer to more instances, Create a base particle that will be shown allways and make another particle layer with a simple flare popping in on top of that. The key is to use the opacity on this second particular instance to drive when the flares appear and they don't all shine like crazy.

Another way would be to use VCP's optical flare in lightness mode (in a precomp with just some particles). Little controll this way but a few times it does wonders.

Also keep in mind that if some setting in particular is holding you back, the foreground particles could be hand placed and animated there. (once you have the camera solved)

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Levan Khomeriki
Re: How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?
on Jul 23, 2013 at 9:05:20 pm

Sorry for the quality, I've found a higher resolution one and already updated my first post.

So, should I create one longer comp with a layer of wobbling water drop and one layer of optical flare on top of that which will randomly light up; and then I'll loop that animation and set 'Random frame, loop' as a sprite source in particular.

Did I get that right?

Also, my main problem is achieving that particle look. I can see some Glow on top and overblown white light on the bottom, but can't quite pinpoint how they achieved that natural look of the drops.

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Cassius Marques
Re: How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?
on Jul 24, 2013 at 12:50:46 pm

Seeing the higher res video I can tell you more how I would reproduce that.
The author had a water drop animation, probably done within a 3d software, the white reflection on the botton probably comes from a forest with a sky backplate(once you have a refracted material in a spheared shape, things get inverted, you're seeing the sky's reflection). With a few noise effectors you would get 90% of the particle done. Bringing it to AE and color correcting would get you the rest.

You can duplicate this particle source and hand animate a flare coming in and out (in one of them) or some sparking glints by duplicating the particles, adding glow and working with blending modes. To get more randomness you need to create extra sources. Use more instances of particular (one with each as source).

Or put all of them in the same composition(sequenced) and set it to "split clip - play once".

Other then that, there's some Red Giant starglow. Camera blur (or a simple blur to the background particles). And some flare to the left with a rainbow lens effect and some bokeh.

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Greg Neumayer
Re: How to achieve this look using Trapcode Particular?
on Jul 24, 2013 at 9:50:33 pm

Piggy-backing on Cassius' response, I'd not worry about the lighting until after you've got the drops working well. If you REALLY are trying to stay out of a 3D app for it, try
--a sphere (like CCSphere effect) wrapped with your footage (to fake the reflection),
--make that your source particle for Particular. Then, once you've got your particles and camera move going,
--apply your other effects. You could try overlaying Turbulent Displace over your entire particle field to get a bit of organic movement in them. Then use Starglow for the highlights, but use an animated fractal noise pattern (or similar) to make the starglow vary randomly.* If it doesn't look realistic enough, add more glow. and a big lens flare. and a unicorn. :)


*Take a duplicate copy of your particle comp and reveal it through a fractal noise layer as a precomp. Then, maybe add some contrast to that comp to really get some animated bright spots, and apply Starglow after that to the precomp. This should give you animated variances in the starglow values.

Antifreeze Design

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